Union County FFA Chapters help local pantry

Chapter raise more than $1,100 to restock pantry on National Ag Day.

Union County FFA members donate canned goods worth more than $1,100 to Shawnee Development Council’s Union County Food Pantry. They learned about the pantry by participating in a 10 Gallon Challenge with Union County Farm Bureau. (Photo courtesy of Dongola School)

By Grace Rendleman and Stephanie Rhodes

Members of the Dongola and Anna Jonesboro Community High School (AJCHS) FFA chapters raised more than $1,100 in recent weeks to purchase canned goods for the Shawnee Development Council’s Union County Food Pantry.

The effort grew out of both chapters’ participation in a recent 10 Gallon Challenge brought to Union County Farm Bureau earlier in the year. When AJCHS chapter officers delivered milk collected via the challenge to the food pantry, they toured the pantry and storage rooms.

They saw a need for more donations when they learned from Pantry Director Paula Stairs that the Wednesday food pantry operates solely on donations. The officers heard about and saw the need and were motivated to help the community.

For the donation drive, AJCHS FFA members staged a competition among all grade levels in their ag classes. Each donated $5 to $10 during the week of March 4-8 for a total of $600.

Dongola FFA officers sent letters to classes and students in grades K-12 the same week. The chapter also received a generous donation from Jeremy’s Blazing Cane Vending, a local business, to add to their efforts, raising more than $500.

Officers from both chapters worked with Jonesboro’s Save-A-Lot manager, Sam O’Neal, to purchase and arrange delivery of the food to the pantry to arrive the afternoon of March 14 – National Ag Day. O’Neal worked with Stairs to identify items that would be good to restock the pantry.

The students hope their donation will send a message to their community and will encourage others to help their local food pantries. In their newfound knowledge of the local pantry and the needs of the community, they have learned that donations are important year-round.

Grace Rendleman serves as AJCHS FFA reporter, while Stephanie Rhodes serves as Union County Farm Bureau manager. Rhodes assisted Rendleman with local publicity for the donation. The 10 Gallon Challenge has resulted in donation of 220 gallons of milk to the local pantry and has motivated Farm Bureau members to donate an additional $1,400-plus in cash and other goods to the pantry.